Take a Chance: Create Experiences

Do it now! Go against the grain, take an adventure, thwart off the oh-so-average, menial life you have been living. I once read a story about a rocking chair -- yes, a rocking chair. It started out by painting a picture. An image of a grandparent seated in an old, wooden rocking chair on an outdoor patio overlooking a great expanse of open land. Sun shining, starry-eyed grandchildren gathered around waiting for yet another wild venture saga.

In the story the author recalled a time he was in college and was presented an offer to go on a trip to South America for an entire summer. He was in a quandary, as his rational self calculated college tuition bills and looming textbook expenses. He thought it would be wise to stay and work to pay for this, but still he wondered what if? What if he did go? Yes, the bills would be there to welcome him upon his return, but he would also come back a wealthy man. Maybe not by monetary standards, but the experiences, the chance meetings, strangers that would become friends, the daring exploits that would be remembered and written off as being young and crazy, would in fact enrich his life beyond what any dollar figure could match.

He put the decision to a test, a "rocking chair test." What stories would he tell when he was old and grey? Stories, working in a pizzeria or washing cars? No, that would not offer any spice to life. A story is meant to thrill and excite. He wanted to create a life that would regale audiences and inspire young hearts. The Rocking Chair.

I use this test wagering if my own life decisions are living up to the rocking chair. Am I taking the easy way out, staying within the confines of a pre-drawn box society drew or that of comfort and stability? In the past five years, I have made three major life decisions that changed the direction of my life as a whole. As an American I abandoned my mother country for a fantastic journey. At first it was just backpacking across Europe, five months sleeping in youth hostels and on friend’s couches.  Without a set agenda, I let my internal compass guide me to the most remarkable places, like hiking Croagh Patrick, a mountain on the west coast of Ireland overlooking Clew Bay, an important site of pilgrimage in County Mayo, to coordinating youth activities for French-speaking teens at an English camp in Genk, Belgium. I found myself sailing the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, along the lush Croatian Coast for a week, with an acquaintance I had made one night over beers in an underground “cellar” bar in Krakow, Poland.

Returning to the United States I felt lost, like I was living some horrible version of the movie Groundhog Day, where I was merely repeating the life I had once lived, with slight modifications: there was no hunger or desire encouraging me to get up in the morning.  Knowing that I could not continue down this path, I decided to move to Brussels, Belgium. Without a job, a visa, or any viable, legal reason for the Belgian immigration authorities to grant me permanent residence, I leaned on those friends I made on my travels and with their support, I was able to land a job with a luxury spa in the heart of the city.

Not but two years later, after meeting my now husband, life gave us a chance opportunity to move to the sun and sand of Barcelona, Spain. I reverted back to that old rocking chair.

I decided to move to Belgium for many reasons, but one that stands out above the rest was an inherent want to see and live in the world, and if I were to confine myself to one place, one city, one country, would I actually fulfil my aspiration?! I could have seen myself being very happy living the next five or ten years in Brussels, but somewhere in all the internal dialogue I was trying to make sense of, there was a soft, yet definitive voice that questioned: what if this opportunity is once in a lifetime? Will you live to regret? Think of all the stories to be told.

Packing up our one-bedroom apartment, on the top floor of a five-story townhouse, where through the skylights you could sneak picturesque views of the opulent Grand Place, we made our move. Not knowing what would transpire on the other side of the figurative coin we flipped, we knew whatever lay ahead would impact our lives, our beings, more than staying idle and complacent. We propelled ourselves into a place of limbo and change, where anything and everything can happen, where stories and wisdom are created and nourished.   

The rocking chair serves to push the boundaries and to break down walls. It asks you to go beyond yourself and live fully. The rocking chair often asks you to go blindly in the direction of your dreams and wants, to face fear, embrace change, and on many accounts step out onto the high rope where adventure awaits. Adrenaline rushing, heart beating, the mind ablaze with thoughts of glory, the rocking chair opens doors and sets your future alight, so that the next generation can hear of your magnificent achievements and seek to top them with even more courageous acts.

What if you didn't take the leap of faith? What if you kept pushing off opportunity to a later date? What stories would you have to tell sitting in that rocking chair, years having passed you by, under the scrutiny of your young admirers? Do you want to put them to sleep or incite within them a spark? Create experiences, take chances, live life in gear, and let the stories overwhelm your critics and make them believers too. That there is no time for LATER, life happens NOW!

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